The Isle of Sicily is a stunning gem of natural beauty; modern luxuries and ancient ruins set amongst a backdrop of blue seas and golden sand. Whether exploring 3.000-year-old architecture, enjoying locally sourced cuisine or snorkelling amongst exotic marine life, the myriad things to do in Sicily makes this Mediterranean paradise a premier holiday destination for high-end getaways.
The island boasts some of the best 5* resorts that the world has to offer. If you are looking for luxury, try the Grand Hotel Atlantis Bay; located a short cable car ride away from the small town of Taormina, the building is carved into the rocks of surrounding hillsides. The crown jewel is a glorious infinity pool that drifts effortlessly into a beautiful stretch of sea known as the Bay of the Mermaid. The location offers unparalleled swimming, boating and water sports.
Hotels offer convenience but they often lack privacy. Villas can provide a more intimate venue for any luxury break, from modest cottages to country estates equipped with swimming pools, saunas and acres of land. Villa Feudale is one such example of the latter, with 12 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms. The building sits on the Ibleon plateau, with panoramic views of Mount Etna and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its vast grounds are so steeped in history that a private tour has been made available to its guests.
Luxury apartments are a fine choice for those looking for something more compact to use as a base. There is no better place to enjoy a glass of Nero d’Avola, paired with a Sicilian sunset, than from a balcony overlooking the picturesque Bay o Mazzarò.
Sicilian cuisine is built on tradition dating back thousands of years. It is famously fresh, with the island providing harvests all year round. Native fruits such as ovale and tardivo ciaculli grow freely; fish such as tuna and sea bream are caught in abundance, just off the island’s western point, in the Egadi Islands. Locally produced olive oil, rosemary and tomatoes are staple ingredients used in savoury dishes such as Sfincione, a regional take on the classic Italian pizza.
For an excellent contemporary taste of Sicilian cuisine, visit La Madia in the southern town of Licata and try their famous arancino with red mullet. Order a Cassata for desert; this super sweet sponge cake uses one of the oldest locally known recipes on the island. Street food is an authentic way to experience the region’s most traditional delicacies on the move. Visit the local markets of Palermo’s old town to discover classic and delicious Sicilian dishes.
Ancient history is everywhere in Sicily. Visit the quaint town of Taormina, sitting on top of the cliffs of the Ionian Sea, and experience the Greco-Roman amphitheatre. This is a place of key architectural significance, having been constructed by the Ancient Greeks and rebuilt centuries later by the Romans. It offers breath-taking views of volcanic Mount Etna.
Discover more of the Ancient world at Agrigento by visiting the Valley of the Temples and the ruins of Selinunte. The iconic Doric temple at Segesta has been standing since 420bc; it remains a well preserved example of ancient Athenian architecture.
Festivals are a regular tradition on the island. In July, the people of Palermo honour Saint Rosalia with a parade; there are fireworks, street parties and a feast made up of the city’s most loved dishes. It’s a large, colourful event that coincides with a national holiday.
Due to Italy’s predominantly Christian population, Easter is a time of particular joy and Sicily has hundreds of events to celebrate this calendar festivity. Visit the picturesque western city of Trapani where, on Good Friday, wooden sculptures are paraded through the town in a tradition that dates back to the fourteenth century.
Festivals are not always specifically religious; many throughout the year are based entirely on a celebration of food. They tend to occur in smaller rural settlements and give a real insight into Sicilian life.